Recovery Connections Community in North Carolina is one of many drug rehabs nationwide that put their clients to work in private businesses, and keep their wages.
Shoshana Walter is a reporter for Reveal, covering criminal justice. She and Reveal reporter Amy Julia Harris exposed how courts across the country are sending defendants to rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry. Their work was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting and won a Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists. It also led to four government investigations, including two criminal probes and four federal class-action lawsuits alleging slavery and fraud.
Walter's investigation on America's armed security guard industry revealed how armed guard licenses have been handed out to people with histories of violence, even people barred by courts from owning guns. Walter and reporter Ryan Gabrielson won the 2015 Livingston Award for Young Journalists for national reporting based on the series, which prompted new laws and an overhaul of California’s regulatory system. For her 2016 investigation about the plight of "trimmigrants," marijuana workers in California's Emerald Triangle, Walter embedded herself in illegal mountain grows and farms. There, she encountered an epidemic of sex abuse and human trafficking in the industry – and a criminal justice system focused more on the illegal drugs. The story prompted legislation, a criminal investigation and grass-roots efforts by the community, including the founding of a worker hotline and safe house.
Walter began her career as a police reporter for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, and previously covered violent crime and the politics of policing in Oakland, California, for The Bay Citizen. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Walter is the winner of a Sigma Delta Chi Award for non-deadline reporting and a Gold Medal for Public Service from the Florida Society of News Editors. She has been a Dart Center Ochberg fellow for journalism and trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim fellow in criminal justice journalism. She is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.
Labor Department officials told her to start paying workers. She ignored them, and they let her get away with it
Rehab entrepreneur Jennifer Warren continues to force her patients to work for free to fund her lavish lifestyle.
Medicaid-funded caregivers in North Carolina must receive 80 hours of training and can’t have criminal convictions for drug trafficking.
A rogue drug rehab program in North Carolina is being investigated for food stamp fraud, the latest fallout in an ongoing Reveal investigation.
There’s a reason Community Cafe’s prices are so low.
The sexual harassment allegations are the latest disclosure in an ongoing Reveal investigation into exploitative rehab programs across the country.
Response to NC rehab investigation: ‘This is a horrific scheme that preys on people at their lowest’
North Carolina officials looked the other way for years until reporters began asking questions.
“It’s like slavery,” said one rehab participant, “like we were on the plantation.”
We found that the program required defendants to sign up for food stamps and then confiscated the cards.
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